a peek inside the fishbowl

20 Jun, 2013

I finally figured out how to store cilantro properly!

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Recipes and Food

This may be old news to some of you, but I just discovered how to keep fresh cilantro (a.k.a. coriander) from dissolving into a swampy mess in our veggie drawer.

How long have I been cooking for myself? Twenty years? More? Every bunch of cilantro inevitably wilted and rotted, turning into soggy mush way before I had the chance to use it all. Compounding the problem was the fact that cilantro is sold in large bunches and recipes often call for small amounts. Of course I could make batches upon batches of cilantro pesto (or freeze it – you can freeze cilantro in ice cube trays for stews and things), but I was never motivated to do so.

Well, I am a changed woman. My cilantro now stays fresh for several weeks. WEEKS PEOPLE. This is good news for many reasons. It saves money and time, but more importantly it saves my sanity. I cannot tell you how much I hate wasting food. Wasting food is bad.

Cilantro problem - solved!

By spending a few minutes on newly-purchased bunches of this fragrant herb I can feed my cilantro-lovin’ self for much longer now. And that, my friends, makes me happy.

And so without further ado, here is the BEST way to store cilantro…

First, remove the elastic band. This is where most of the rotting action occurs. In fact, you should remove the bands off all of your produce before you put it away.

Thoroughly wash the cilantro and let drain in a colander for a few minutes.

Grab a long section of paper towel (5 or 6 pieces or so) and lay it out on the counter. Gently separate the smaller bunches and spread out the cilantro, like this:

Cilantro problem - solved!

Take the time to remove all the squashed, discoloured, and rotting leaves. Many will be concentrated in the middle of each little bunch. If you are serious about keeping your cilantro around for more than a week, do not skip this step. Rotting begets rotting!

The paper towel will absorb a lot of the moisture, but I like to dab the leaves a bit and dry them off. Here’s the thing, you shouldn’t put fresh herbs in the fridge when they are sopping wet. You are heading to mushville if you do that.

Starting from one of the paper towel ends, gently roll up the cilantro. You are creating a CILANTRO ROLL, like this:

Cilantro problem - solved!

Once it’s rolled up all you need to do is tuck it into a plastic bag. It fits into a milk bag perfectly. (Canadians will know what I’m talking about here.) You don’t need to secure the end of the bag, I think a little bit of air is a good thing.  Just put it in the fridge as is. The next time you need cilantro, it’s all ready for you! Just unroll a bit and take what you need.

My mission is to help at least ONE person save their cilantro from turning into a soggy rotting mess, so if this information helped you at all, please let me know!

p.s. This is almost as exciting as my perpetual green onions! I love saving money in the kitchen, don’t you?


17 Responses to "I finally figured out how to store cilantro properly!"

1 | Chantal

June 20th, 2013 at 10:13 am

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mission accomplished. I am a cilantro lover and I buy it often use it once or twice and then have to throw it out. It always made me sad, plus it had me buying and wasting it almost weekly which made me mad :) THANK YOU

2 | Carrie

June 20th, 2013 at 10:29 am

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Great tip! I haven’t wasted any cilantro for the last month or so since I planted it in my garden – HELLO, why haven’t I been growing my own all this time?? – but I will keep this in mind come fall/winter!

3 | Charmian @TheMessyBaker

June 20th, 2013 at 10:40 am

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Oh, I am bookmarking this one! I adore cilantro and am always tossing mushy leaves out. It breaks my heart.

Like Carrie, I grow my own in summer, but the rest of the year, I buy fresh cilantro and weep when it goes bad. Thanks so much for this great tip!!!

4 | Krista

June 20th, 2013 at 10:57 am

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I just started putting my cliantro in a glass of water inside the fridge. It seemed to work fine, but I didn’t clean my bunch like you did. However, my method is not always viable as I don’t always have room to stand such a bunch up! I must try your method!

And thank you for linking to the green onion post. I missed that one. I can’t wait to try it! We love green onions in our house.

5 | Arlene Somerton Smith

June 20th, 2013 at 11:13 am

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This sounds like good advice. I have been chopping mine up and putting it into a freezer bag. When I’m making a soup or stew, I just open the bag, take out what I need and throw it in. It works pretty well. But frozen is never as good as fresh, so I will use this method as a pre-freeze step.

6 | cleo

June 20th, 2013 at 11:30 am

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Thank you for this… I buy a new bunch every week or two! This will save so much!

8 | Stacey K

June 20th, 2013 at 5:21 pm

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I do a similar thing with romaine lettuce. I used to use paper towel, but we decided to cut back on disposal products. So now I wrap the whole head of romaine in an old kitchen dish towel, put it back in the plastic bag and into the veggie drawer.

You might find that you can use a towel for the cilantro as well, if using less paper towel is important to you.

9 | Jennifer

June 20th, 2013 at 6:27 pm

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Ha! This is life-changing (thanks for sharing!)

10 | LorrieD

June 20th, 2013 at 10:08 pm

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THIS! SO GOOD!

11 | andrea tomkins

June 21st, 2013 at 9:50 am

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Thanks everyone! I’m so happy to hear I’m saving your cilantro! Woot!

KELLY! I watched the Michael Smith video this morning. His method is great. I don’t go to the trouble of sealing it in the ziplock bags though. I should try it and see how it compares. Hmm.

And yes, STACEY K! I love your suggestion of using a tea towel. It’s eco-friendlier than the paper towels for sure. I’d definitely use an old one because it might get stained after awhile. :)

12 | andrea tomkins

June 21st, 2013 at 9:51 am

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Also, I should add… I tried growing it once but had NO success. It kept bolting on me! I’d rather spend the couple bucks at the grocery store and save myself the trouble. :)

13 | Tricia

June 21st, 2013 at 2:20 pm

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I do this with romaine lettuce and it works great. I’ll try it with my cilantro which I just bought a couple of days ago. For smaller amounts of herbs, I often use the ‘herb pod’ from Lee Valley…
http://www.leevalley.com/en/garden/page.aspx?cat=2,40733,40734&p=65659

14 | Erin

June 21st, 2013 at 5:35 pm

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Andrea, this is fabulous! I will try it next time I get cilantro. And I am off to read about green onions now.

15 | J Lee

June 22nd, 2013 at 8:51 am

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I love cilantro and I have experienced the same problem! I also hate to waste food, so I stopped buying cilantro. Thanks so much for sharing, I’ll definitely try this! But what’s a milk bag … ?

16 | Karinny

October 2nd, 2013 at 10:46 am

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Great tip! I hope it is not too late to save mine :)

17 | Rachel

January 24th, 2023 at 7:10 pm

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Thank you for this tip!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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